Leo Rovert FENDLEY
Service No. 4078, Sergeant, 1st Machine Gun Battalion

The Battle of Aubers

Leo Fendley was born at Bairnsdale and had worked as a motor car painter and signwriter before the war. At the time of his enlistment in the AIF in July 1915, he was twenty-one and living with his widowed mother in Melbourne. Ironically, given his later war record, he had been dismissed as ‘unfit’ due to heart trouble after three years of service with the Citizens Military Forces.
On 24 November 1915, Leo embarked on the Orontes for service in Egypt. At Abassia on 7 January 1916, he was promoted to Lance Corporal. At the end of March, Lance Corporal Fendley left Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force in France, arriving at Marseilles on 4 April 1916. He transferred to the 3rd Machine Gun Company as a private in August 1916 and was not re-appointed Lance Corporal until 12 May 1917.

During savage fighting on the Western Front on 2 July 1917, Fendley was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. The citation promulgated in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No.189 of 8 November 1917 reads:”

“His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the Field to the under-mentioned non-commissioned officer: No. 4078 Lance Corporal L.R. Fendley.”
Lance Corporal Fendley’s bravery was again recognised following an incident on 31 October 1917, when he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Given the dangerous conditions on the battlefield, Leo requested that his DCM be forwarded to his brother in Australia for safekeeping. The citation in the Commonwealth Gazette No.95 of 27 June 1918 reads:

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.”

When his officer and sergeant had become casualties he took command of his section, and brought his guns into action to great advantage under heavy fire. When both his guns were buried by a shell he dug them out at great personal risk, and then brought two captured machine guns into action. He displayed great initiative and courage, and set a fine example to his men.

On 7 January 1918 Leo was promoted to Corporal, then to Sergeant on 11 June that year, when he was transferred to the 1st Machine Gun Battalion.

While Sergeant Fendley had a distinguished military career, he also enjoyed several periods of leave in England and one in Paris. The only blot on his record occurred on 30 April 1919, when he was severely reprimanded for allowing two prisoners in detention to escape while he was in command of the main guard room.

Leo Fendley MM, DCM left England for Australia on the Soudan in May 1919. He was residing in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton in 1924.